October 12th, 2021 Public Hearing – West End Inspired Artistry Looks To Fund Millions In Community Benefits

Public Hearing – October 12th, 2021
With the ongoing pandemic, and the tragedy of the decades of abuse at the residential schools brought fresh to light, Hannah and I can understand why some may not feel like celebrating today. That said, the grief we’ve experienced over the last year has taught us the importance of taking a moment to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. Truly, there’s nothing as valuable as family and community, which is the focus of this public hearing’s agenda.

That’s why one person is conflicted about Item #1, as this text amendment to allow more daycare near the Champlain Heights Community Centre further reduces the area’s already limited retail space. Of course, small businesses are struggling across the world, even on Davie Street, and local entrepreneurs, and community leaders alike think Item #3 holds the answer to reinvigorating it. Not only will these 289 homes bring some much needed activity, they’ll also provide ~$41.2 million worth of community benefits.

In fact, this night could bring quite the windfall for the West End, as Item #2 also offers ~$17.5 million in various amenity contributions. More importantly, it replaces a building who’s demolition was only a matter of time since it predates any seismic code, and the applicant is voluntarily replacing every existing rental home too. With good news like that, it’s fitting that Item #4 allows patios at local breweries, though some fear this celebration might be too noisy.

Backlash Expectations

Item 2 – 1450 West Georgia St. – Very Low
At its 2018 open house, people were upset that these homes aren’t being built fast enough

Item 3 – 1157 Burrard St. – Low
There’s a small mix of opposition, but it’s receiving a warm welcome from local businesses

The Second Item – 1450 West Georgia St. – Very Low

What is it?:
Under the West End Plan, this fir tree inspired design could have offered only strata homes, but the applicant has chosen to provide 162 rental homes, along with 193 for purchase (pg 16).

Where is it?:
Here, by the triangle where Georgia St and Pender meet. It will replace the original Georgian Tower, which was built as a hotel in 1958, and despite being renovated in 2002, remains seismically unsafe (pg 11).

What will it contribute to the community?:
Aside from voluntarily preserving the amount of rental housing currently offered here, it will also pay ~$17.5 million in various city fees (pg 66). This includes ~$8 million for city-wide improvements, ~$567,000 for public art, and ~$8.9 million for childcare, community facilities, affordable housing, parks, and character retention in the West End (pg 17).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Its condition of approval essentially mimics the Urban Design Panel’s remarks, with modifications required to its ground level (pg 24), common amenities (pg 26), and the appearance of its rooftop (pg 23).

What was the open house like?:
Many of the 67 people (pg 15) at the applicant-led event in 2018 were either curious or hungry, as there was no food left by the time we arrived. A similar amount attended the city-led event, and most were impressed by what they saw, though a few worried how their condo’s view would be affected (pg 55).

What are its strengths?:
It ensures renters will be able to call this site home for decades to come, and not just because it replaces a building virtually guaranteed to collapse in an earthquake. The amenity room on level 21 will have nice views, and like the rest of the common areas, will be open to all residents.

What are its weaknesses?:
Our biggest complaint was the treatment of the eastern mid-block connection, which is now being addressed (pg 26).

What is the opposition like?:
There’s not that many, but five individuals feel this already reduced height is still too tall (pg 55), and one person wrote in to complain the area is too busy.

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form, or register to speak by phone here.

The Third Item – 1157 Burrard St. – Very Low

What is it?:
This 47 floor building will provide 289 strata homes, a 37 space daycare, and a 20,000 sq. ft. cultural hub, with ownership of the latter two turned over to the city. It also comes with automated solar shades (example video) that convey an artist’s interpretation of the view of Downtown and the North Shore.

Where is it?:
Here, at the site of an old gas station, which has been occupied by the Davie Village Community Garden for the last decade. It’s roughly between Celebrities, and the old St Paul’s Hospital.

What will it contribute to the community?:
It will contribute ~$41.2 million in various city fees, public art and neighbourhood amenities. The delivery of fully built cultural centre, and daycare is valued at ~$15.6 million and ~$6.4 million respectively, and another ~$10.6 million in cash will be paid to create further amenities in the West End. In addition, ~$8 million will be used to fund city-wide improvements, and ~$575 thousand will be used for public art (pg 67).

What has changed since it was first proposed?
Ever since it was submitted it 2017, it’s been struggling to convince city staff it can fit between the Granville Bridge, and Charleson Seawall View Cones (12.1 & B1). They still feel it needs to slim down to squeeze in (pg 22), but strong public support convinced them to allow four floors to be added. A hotel originally contemplated in the podium has finally been abandoned in favour of creating more homes.

What was the open house like?:
There was positivity at its 2018 pre-application event, though some of the 51 attendees felt it didn’t embrace the area’s LGBTQ2+ identity strongly enough. The city led event drew a slightly smaller turner out (pg 14), and aside from a passionate debate about view corridors, most only came to satisfy their curiosity.

What are its strengths?:
It has the backing of local business owners (pg B1), including a community hero (pg A1), and ~$41 million in public benefits is nothing to sneeze at. The automated solar shading provides a beautiful tribute to Vancouver’s skyline, and is climate friendly, like the rain-fed water feature.

What are its weaknesses?:
There’s a reason city staff are requiring several improvements to the public realm (pg 23 & 26), and despite my fondness for water-features, I loath the term “ephemeral waterfall.”

What is the opposition like?:
There’s essentially two factions split between a small, vocal group who continues to oppose the 8 year old community plan, and another who, like the Urban Design Panel, simply wants to see the community’s identity better reflected in the design.

Want to speak up?:
You can submit your comments using this online form, or register to speak by phone here.

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